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EPA Proposes New Rules for GHG Permits

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed new rules to ensure that factories and power plants will be able to obtain permits to emit greenhouse gases starting next year.

Earlier this year, the EPA finalized rules that require these plants and other large stationary greenhouse gas (GHG) sources to obtain GHG permits, starting in January 2011.

Large emitters will be required to gain emission permits when they retool or add new capacity at a facility. The EPA will only grant permits to those firms that demonstrate that they have used the cleanest technologies available when upgrading their plant.

The permitting rules will cover large industrial facilities that are responsible for 70 percent of all GHG emissions from stationary sources.

EPA says the proposed new rules “will help ensure that these sources will be able to get those permits regardless of where they are located.” 

The agency wants to mandate that permitting programs in 13 states make changes to cover greenhouse gas emissions, while other states must review their existing permitting authority and tell the agency if such emissions are not covered.

“States are best-suited to issue permits to sources of GHG emissions and have long-standing experience working together with industrial facilities,” says EPA.

The Clean Air Act requires states to develop implementation plans for EPA approval that include requirements for issuing air permits. The proposed rules would be first federal requirements for greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act.

But several state governments have argued the proposed rules essentially allow EPA to force permitting oversight in states that do not comply with the agency’s GHG regulations.

Texas recently joined 16 other court challenges to EPA’s tailoring rule which is intended to limit greenhouse gas limits to larger facilities, reports The Hill’s E2Wire. Alabama, North Dakota, South Dakota, South Carolina and Nebraska, along with Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R), filed a joint petition July 30 challenging the rule. The Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality filed a separate lawsuit.

Industry groups challenging the rule include the American Forest and Paper Association, National Association of Manufacturers, the American Iron and Steel Institute and the Portland Cement Association.

Sierra Club and The Center for Biological diversity also filed legal challenges to the rule, arguing the timeline for regulating greenhouse gas emissions from stationary sources was too long, and that the rule exempts too many polluters.

EPA will hold a public hearing on this proposed rule Aug. 25.

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